HONOLULU (KHON2) — The East-West Center Arts Program is hosting a new exhibit that honors the tradition of haʻi moʻolelo [storytelling] and highlights the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Hawaiian Theatre Program in the Department of Theatre and Dance.
EWC’s new exhibit is free and open to the public. It explores the vastness of creativity that exists in Hawaiian culture. The mele [song], oli [chant], pule [incantations] and hula have long been a part of the Kānaka Maoli [Native Hawaiians] experience and are the foundations of hana keaka [the Hawaiian term for theatre].
Get Hawaii’s latest morning news delivered to your inbox, sign up for News 2 You
“I think that this is an amazing opportunity for us to showcase the work and the growth of the Hawaiian theatre program, and then being able to have open access for anyone in the public to come through and learn that story and also learn the history of the practice of hana keaka,” said Tammy Hailiʻōpua Baker, associate professor and founder of the UH Mānoa Hawaiian Theatre Program.
This exhibition seeks to establish the history of Hawai’i’s storytelling and provide a glimpse into the origins, development and practices of hana keaka.
Visitors will have an opportunity to explore costumes, instruments, hula ki‘i [puppets], scenic design models, props and production photographs illustrating the growth and success of UH at Mānoa’s award-winning Hawaiian Theatre Program. The exhibit also provides a peek into the past with “the first documented descriptions of theatrical performances tracing back to the 19th century, preserved in Hawaiian language newspapers,” said UHM.
The Hawaiian Theatre Program was created by Baker in 2014. The program made history in 2019 with the debut of ʻAuʻa ʻIa: Holding On when the play premiered at the Kennedy Theater mainstage in an off-Broadway festival in New York. This marked the first time ever for a UHM Hawaiian Theatre Program production to be selected for the festival.
“Hana keaka is a vessel. A carrier of culture and language; and in practicing hana keaka, we honor all that we are, all that our kūpuna were,” Baker said.
You can go to the East-West Center now through Jan. 8 to see the exhibit, and there are a few special events that will take place during the exhibition.
On Sunday, Dec. 8 from 2-3 p.m., there will be a script reading of Tamoree, written by Ka‘ōnohiokalāe‘ālohilohinei “Kalā” Müller with a tour in ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i to follow.
Get news on the go with KHON 2GO, KHON’s morning podcast, every morning at 8
On Sunday, Jan. 8 from 2-3 p.m., there will be “Reflections on the UHM Hawaiian Theatre Program” with current and past UH Mānoa Hawaiian Theatre haumāna [students].